Crunch time has been a controversial topic throughout the video game industry, and it’s something that Rockstar Games have been hit with in the past; when Red Dead Redemption was released, many employees said they were working excessive hours ahead of time.
Now, it seems that the studio have put their foot in their mouth again, this time with Red Dead Redemption 2. In an in-depth profile with Vulture, lead writer Dan Houser explained that they were working 100 hour weeks at some points throughout 2018.
Obviously, this prompted a lot of backlash from all parts of the gaming community.
In a follow-up statement to The Verge, Mr. Houser explained that it was just him and the other members of the writing team that were working that much; more importantly, he said, this wasn’t a company-wide policy. In his statement, he further explained:
«After working on the game for seven years, the senior writing team, which consists of four people, Mike Unsworth, Rupert Humphries, Lazlow, and myself, had, as we always do, three weeks of intense work when we wrapped everything up.»
In regards to the issue of crunch time at Rockstar, Mr. Houser said:
«But that additional effort is a choice, and we don’t ask or expect anyone to work anything like this. Lots of other senior people work in an entirely different way and are just as productive — I’m just not one of them!»
However, his point about «additional effort» being a choice has been met with criticism from many ex-Rockstar Games employees. Many emphasized across Twitter that, while they mightn’t have been verbally forced to work that hard, they were seemingly penalized if they didn’t.
From what ex-Rockstar Games employees are saying, the main consistency has been that there was an unspoken rule that employees would work extreme hours in the build up to, as well as aftermath of, a games release.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is set to be released on October 26.